By Jacqueline M. Hames, USAASCFebruary 28, 2019
As a DOD employee, you're eligible for TSA Precheck--have you opted in?
From having to book the cheapest flight to departing at odd hours and enduring multiple, long layovers--plus all the "regular" travel snags--government air travel can be a real pain in the neck. Security lines in particular are time-consuming and uncomfortable. The long waits in crowded lines, the removal of shoes and jackets, ensuring that liquids are not only in an appropriate clear bag but also placed in the X-ray bin for scanning--it's stressful. However, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) makes it easier for DOD employees, reducing the security hassles with the TSA Precheck program.
ON THE FAST TRACK
The program--an absolutely free perk of being a DOD employee--was launched in 2011 for frequent flyers; it opened to eligible members of the general public in December 2013. The public must pay a fee and undergo a basic background check to earn the Precheck qualification. But DOD employees need not pay, as they have already completed the requisite background check. More than 200 U.S. airports and 54 airlines currently participate in the program. Most participating travelers wait less than 5 minutes in the security line, though TSA notes that passengers can still be selected for random searches or be redirected to normal security lines at any time.
Oh, and did you know? You can use the program for personal travel. Just enter your DOD identification number when making airline reservations.
"I have found the Precheck provisions for TSA screening procedures to be absolutely essential for government travel," said Michael K. Beans, chief of the Human Resources Division at the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Opting-in is easy--you just register your DOD identification number on milConnect and in the Defense Travel System. Once registered, travelers can enjoy the program's central benefit: expedited security screenings. You won't have to remove shoes, belts or lightweight jackets, and you won't have to take your laptop, tablet or liquids out of your carry-on. (That's as long as your liquids comply with the 3-1-1 rule: you can carry 3.4-ounce or smaller bottles, in one quart-sized clear, zip-top bag, with one bag per passenger.)
Beans, who often carries official electronic devices and printed documents that require special attention for their security, said that the program allows him to focus on the accountability of those items and the official nature of his trip.
That's certainly a blessing for travelers juggling official documents and equipment--but imagine the possibilities for vacations! Once becoming a Precheck member, DOD employees can bring children under 12 with them through the expedited screening lines. Travelers ages 13 and older must use the regular security lines if they aren't a Precheck member.
But wait--how do you register a DOD identification number? First, log in to milConnect and click on the My Profile tab. Then, click Update and View My Profile from the drop-down selections. You'll see your personal information displayed; scroll down until you come to the TSA Precheck Program line--now, click the box and save your work.
The next step is to register your DOD identification number in the Defense Travel System. Save the number to the "known traveler number" field in your personal profile--this will ensure that all future official travel lists you as Precheck-qualified. For detailed instructions on how to enter the number into your profile, go to https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/Docs/How_to_Enter_Your_DoD_ID.pdf. Don't forget to click save when you're done.
Fantastic! Now you'll speed through security lines at the airport--with your shoes on.
This article is published in the April-May 2019 issue of Army AL&T magazine.